After a two day break in track events, things resumed in earnest at the oval office. Events for the women were the shot put (qualifying), javelin (qualifying), 5,000 (2 heats, semi-final), 100 hurdles (5 heats, qualifying), 400 hurdles (5 heats, qualifying), shot put (final), 1500 (3 heats, qualifying), triple jump (qualifying), and steeplechase (final).
In the shot put, 23 women started the day looking for one of twelve spots in the final. The top seeds, including 2012 Olympians Tia Brooks and Michelle Carter (American record holder), advanced.
Twelve women would move out on to the finals in the javelin. The top contenders successfully did so, including Winger, Hamilton, and Borman.
The track events started with the 5,000. The top six from the two heats and next four fastest times would advance to the final. Many women entered in the distance event ran the 10,000 meter race Saturday, including the three going to Rio in the event. Conditions were milder, with overcast skies and temperatures in the low 70’s.
The first heat was a tactical one with all eleven women in the mix until the last third of the race. Bizzarri fell off the pace first and will not compete in the final. Conley ran easily at the back of the pack for half of the race and then gradually moved to the front. She took the heat in 15:40. Laura Thweatt did not advance.
Molly Huddle quickly took care of business by taking staying close to the front running Goodman and by a mile to go put her stamp on the race until the last lap where ladies fighting to advance reeled her in. Huddle won the heat in 15:26 followed closely by Mackey, Houlihan, Ostrander, and Hall. DAgostino was 6th and advanced as well. The second heat was considerably faster than the first, so all of the qualifiers on time came from it, including Welling, Kanuho, Hasey, and Williams. Grunewald was well back (15:58) and did not advance.
Afterwards, Ostrander (Boise State) was pleased with her race. She said that she told herself that the Olympians and professional runners were humans too and tried be as relaxed as possible on the start line. Ostrander said that it was a tough decision to run at trials rather than run the Mount Marathon in her home state of Alaska. The rising sophomore is so dedicated to the 3.1-3.5 mile race (depending on course taken by runners) that the willingness of her coach to let her race it was a deciding factor in her college selection. Her performance is all the more impressive given her injury plagued 2016. After the race she tweeted “5 weeks ago I was run-walking. Today I qualified to the Olympic Trials finals.”
Shelby Houlihan, who qualified in the both the 1500 and 5000 opted to run the longer event. As of race day she was still entered in both events. Houlihan looked comfortable in the second heat, finishing in the top six and automatically advancing to the final. Afterwards she said that coming into Trials her focus was on the 5k even though she had less experience in it. She and her coaches felt that her ability would compensate.
Twenty-one women in the 100 hurdles would move on to the semi-finals tomorrow; eight from each heat and the next six fastest times advance. Janey DeLoach did not start the race. The top seeds all advanced, some running quick times, including Rollins (12.56) and Harrison (12.57).
The 400 hurdles also hosted qualifying heats where the top 2 in each heat and the next 6 fastest advance. The rain that had started earlier in the day had made the track slick by the start of the 400 hurdles. Regardless some fast times were put on the board. Muhammad (55.33), McLaughlin (55.46), and Brown (55.47) were the fastest of the day.
Like the 5,000, many women entered in the 1,500 raced earlier at the Trials, most in the 800. Grunewald raced just two hours earlier in the 5,000. The favorites, including Uceny, Martinez, Simpson, and Rowbury made it through. Grunewald, in a show of force and determination, finished in the top six in the third heat to move on to the semi-final. When asked what she did to prepare in the two hours between the 5000 and the 1500 she said that she went to World of Food after her cool down, relaxed a bit, did a short jog to warm-up, and then ran her way into the next round. Grunewald said that there is some backlash about entering multiple races in one day given the likelihood of scratching one and thus taking a spot from someone else, but she said that you never know what will happen. If the 5K did not go well she wanted another chance. That is exactly what happened today, showing that she made a good choice. Grunewald said that one of her favorite workouts is a tempo in the morning and speed in the afternoon, so today was similar save the shorter break between.
Sadly new mom Sarah Brown did not advance. Her story of training through pregnancy and the birth of her daughter just four months ago has been chronicled by ESPN in a docu-series Run Mama Run.
Twelve women took the runway in the triple jump final. It was an exhibition for Keturah Orji of Georgia as she blew the field away with her 46-11 ¾ jump. Joining her in Rio will be Epps and Geubelle.
The women’s steeplechase wrapped up the evening. Fourteen ladies toed the line vying for one of the three spots to Rio. Given Coburn has not been challenged by an American in several years, in reality it was a fight for 2nd and 3rd. That fight would be a great one as this was the deepest women’s steeplechase field ever at the U.S. National Championships.
The field started off holding pace consistent and went through the mile just over 5:00. Coburn stayed near the front and took the lead after a few laps to avoid trouble in the crowd and wet track. The decisive move came after 2000 meters when Coburn dropped a 70 second quarter. Stephanie Garcia tried to go with her and put a gap between herself and third place. The move was too much as she lost ground over the last 200 getting caught by the past two NCAA DI champions, Frerichs (9:20.92) and Quigley (9:21.29). Garcia stumbled over the final barrier and 2012 Olympian Kipp passed her for 4th (9:28.72). Frerichs and Quigley seemed to be in disbelief about their accomplishment; Frerichs could be heard screaming “I did it!” as she ran up to a group of supporters in the stands. Coburn won her 5th National Championship in a row (9:17.48).